25 Mar 2024

A Textural Oasis in Hampstead

London-based architecture practice ConForm has unlocked a contemporary haven in Hampstead, screened by its natural surroundings.


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The existing garden flat was compromised in its arrangement, suffering low ceiling heights, dark spaces and poor connectivity to the large rear garden. Long-time follower of the architect’s work, the client, Muzammil Hajee Abdoula, appointed ConForm to design a refined, sophisticated and textural home, named Terzetto, capitalising on and extending into the large rear garden surrounded by mature trees.

The original concept of the rear extension draws on a reinterpretation of the decorative bay windows of the building and ornate details of the front elevation, typical of the Victorian terraced homes throughout the conservation area. Conceptually, the extension is developed as a contemporary canted bay, angled at the rear to lessen the visual impact on neighbouring properties whilst evoking the characterful Victorian street scene.

The concept is enhanced further in section by drawing on the tri-sectional elements of a typical bay window – plinth, column and pediment, each demarcated by distinct materials. The plinth in a concrete floor datum, the columns in sleek green terrazzo and the roof plane in a textural clay-toned plaster.

On entry and into the main hallway, visitors are instantly met with curated views through rooms to the south-facing garden beyond. This subtle signposting has been engineered via a sequence of skylights, clerestory windows and glazing, which capture pockets of natural light and glimpses of the garden, directing the journey and experience through the property.

The client wished to reorientate the property with living spaces towards the garden whilst also seeking to maximise potential bedrooms for value purposes. To help achieve this, ConForm introduced a series of clever visual illusions via skylights and a clerestory window within a hitherto landlocked bedroom, opening out to direct views of the garden and providing ventilation. A hidden three-leaf pocket door extends through the living space to close off a further guest bedroom or create a snug when required.

The kitchen comprises sophisticated light oak cabinetry, creating ample room for storage and function whilst delivering added ornamental value with the addition of a perimeter framing detail to the doors. The plinth acts as a visual connection across Terzetto’s design, communicating the relationship between the kitchen, hallway and patio, all connected via one unifying datum line.

Within the rear living space, ConForm has demonstrated its expertise in precision detailing with the addition of a large trapezoidal skylight, directing natural light into the internal kitchen zone whilst maintaining privacy from neighbouring buildings. Here, materials and concept come to the fore, playing a crucial role in the success of Terzetto’s transformation, as the textural clay-toned plaster and green terrazzo come together with the concrete tiled plinth to envelop the space.

Beyond the masked storage spaces in the kitchen, the living space opens out to a generous art display wall, naturally illuminated by the skylight. A nod to the amphitheatrical is experienced here; the concrete plinth and bench make the living space read as a sunken area with an additional winged seating area. The room exemplifies ConForm’s linear precision and material contrasts, unified by three split datum lines that run seamlessly from the surrounds of the room out to the garden.

Terzetto illustrates ConForm’s approach to interrogative design, employing bold and innovative use of material in order to supersede spatial challenges and reinforce original conceptual ideas. The resultant space is a textural and natural home, at one with the elements and its environment.

Ben Edgley, Director at ConForm, says: “Our proposal extends the living spaces out into the rear garden and introduces some of the detail and historical proportionality from the front facade. The pedimented roof plane is a textured datum with angular rooflight openings, allowing light deep into the living spaces. Below, angled columns formed of stone contrast with the textured plane above that, in turn, sit on a terrazzo base which forms the lowered floor to the extension.”

The homeowner, Muzammil Hajee Abdoula, says; “I have always enjoyed ConForm’s application of bold materials and technical design in order to create statement homes. Terzetto came together through a unique series of discussions and contextual workshopping, and I enjoyed seeing how their design process was engaged in this way as a team. ConForm listened to every aspect of my brief and took it two steps further. My new home is private and tranquil, yet surprising and vibrant. I look forward to seeing it adapt with time.”

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